$190 million being invested into downtown La Crosse

There is almost $200 million worth of construction projects taking place in downtown La Crosse this year and into next year.

The organization Downtown Mainstreet Inc. is kicking off a new campaign, Great City Growing Greater, to educate the public on just how much of an effect all the work is going to have.

La Crosse officials said people have a lot of faith in downtown right now. The area is filling up fast and they don’t see this growth slowing down any time soon.

Driving through downtown La Crosse, there seems to be construction everywhere you look.

“Basically, what’s happening right now in downtown La Crosse is a transformation,” said Robin Moses, executive director of Downtown Mainstreet Inc.

Moses said there are currently about 15 big projects either under way or soon to be started in downtown. A few more are set to begin next year.

The 20 or so construction zones include four new hotels, the project on Lot C, local businesses expanding and new buildings at Western Technical College.

“We want to see cranes in the air, we want to see digging going on, we want to see building. That shows that you’re strong and downtown La Crosse is absolutely a strong place to be right now,” Moses said.

In total, there is more than $190 million being invested into downtown.

“It’s going to improve everyone’s business and it’s going to increase the tax base for the city and for the community,” Moses said.

“Anytime that you replace a structure that has a minimal value or an empty lot that has a minimal value on our tax rolls with a new structure that has multiple tenants and an increased value, it helps our tax base,” said James Cherf, district 7 La Crosse City Council member.

When all the projects are completed in a few years, Downtown Mainstreet Inc. expects the work to create almost 400 new jobs, and for the four new hotels to draw more than 100,000 more visitors to La Crosse annually.

“Those guests are going to eat in our restaurants, shop in our shops, enjoy our parks,” Cherf said.

Both Cherf and Moses said there are going to be some growing pains, but that La Crosse will be stronger than ever.

“We’re not just a weekend town of tourism, we’re a city that’s vibrant, we’re a working city, we’re growing, we’re thriving and the numbers are showing that,” Moses said.

Residential living is another area downtown La Crosse is experiencing growth. Moses said there is a growing number of people moving into second-story apartments in downtown, which is forcing greater demand for services.

Moses said over the past two years the number of open storefronts has dropped dramatically. About 93 percent of the spaces in downtown are now full.